The best books I read In 2021


This past year we opened Centered, our online writing community. Centered is structured to guide writers through the creative cycle, and I curated our monthly workshops and gatherings thematically. These themes touch on the beats of story structure and the energy of a year with four seasons.

If you’ve been on my list this year, then you know that I recommended books each month, according to each theme. At the start of the year, I was recommending one book every week (I was feeling sassy in early 2021!). As the year went on, and our collective exhaustion became more and more apparent, I began recommending two books a month. By the end of this year, I selected only one book each month.

What follows is a complete list of all of my recommended reading from 2021. 

Note: these books are not new releases; rather, they are talismans and allies that guide us through the different facets of a creative life, and support us as needed in our personal story cycle.

Before you check out the list, I would like to add one more unsolicited recommendation: get yourself a Kobo eReader! I got one this year and I’ve never turned back. 

Whether you love reading books on paper or eReader, here is my list of reading recommendations from 2021.

  Sarah Selecky

The Best Books I Read In 2021

You can also download the list here.  


January: Rest

Books to pick up before and after a nap. Read for recovery.

To Bless The Space Between Us, by John O'Donohue

How To Relax, by Thich Nhat Hanh

How To Not Always Be Working, by Marlee Grace

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, translated by Ursula K. LeGuin

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg

February: Friendship

Titles about friends. Intense and radical support. Chosen family.

The Weekend, by Charlotte Wood

Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

The Heroine’s Journey, by Gail Carriger


March: Commitment

Books for major decisions. Support for a long and fruitful journey.

In|Appropriate, by Kim Davids Mandar

The 90-Day Rewrite, by Alan Watt

The Broken Earth Trilogy, by N. K. Jemisin

The Shades of Magic Trilogy, by V. E. Schwab

The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin

April: Courage

Reading to help you when the inspiration dips. It’s harder than it looks. Keep going.

The Street: A Novel, by Ann Petry

Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown

May: Wonder

Books that remind you to be amazed. Magic happens.

World of Wonders, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

The Enchanted Life: Unlocking The Magic of The Everyday, by Sharon Blackie

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Here Is Real Magic, by Nate Staniforth

June: Flow

Books that remind you that it doesn’t have to be so hard.

The Art of Is, by Stephen Nachmanovitch

Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

July: Wellness

Books that teach you how to take care of yourself.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Movement Matters, by Katie Bowman

August: Passion

Books that show you how to bring your whole self to the project. Pleasure and freedom.

No Plan B, by Heather Thorkelson

Pleasure Activism, by Adrienne Maree Brown

September: Resilience

How we pick ourselves up and keep going, without feeling destroyed by the process.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, by Isabel Wilkerson


October: Shadow

How to access the power of our unconscious. Digging deep.

Existential Kink, by Carolyn Elliott


November: Influence

Read what you wish you could write.

The Measure of My Powers, by Jackie Kai Ellis

Photo credit: Tara McMullen

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something using one of these links, I may earn a commission. I only recommend books or products I trust.

What is a good burden?
Reflection & respect: What really happened this year?

1 comment

Jule Gabrielli

Sarah - thank you for this terrific list! Just finished Elissa Washuta's "White Magic" (highly recommend) -- she references Staniforth's book! On the eReader, which one do you have? I love making notes in my books . . .
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